AT&T & Verizon Got Billions From Government, Yet Laid Off 95,000 People In Just Five Years
from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept
You’d be hard pressed to find a sector that has benefited more from the Trump era than telecom. In the last four years, telecom monopolies not only received billions in tax cuts (AT&T nabbed an estimated $42 billion in tax breaks alone), they convinced the Trump administration to effectively neuter the FCC’s consumer protection authority, a move arguably worth countless billions more. In both instances these perks were doled out under the auspices that this would drive hiring and network investment. In reality, not only did that not happen, but the opposite happened.
Reports this week indicate that AT&T and Verizon alone have laid of 95,000 employees in just the last five years alone:
“After AT&T slashed headcount by more than 13,000 in the first nine months of 2020, the final tally was always going to be ugly. Results published this week show another 3,870 jobs disappeared in the fourth quarter. More than 50,000 have gone in just five years ? about 18% of AT&T’s headcount at the end of 2015.
Verizon has pruned with similar zeal. Only 1,000 jobs were cut from the total in the final three months of 2020, and just 2,800 over the entire year. But 45,500 have vanished since 2015, an alarming 26% of that year’s count. The combined losses are roughly equal to the entire workforce at Vodafone, a UK-based operator with international operations.
Some losses were expected for these companies as the pivoted from aging landlines to wireless. At the same time, both companies promised that deregulation and tax breaks would immediately translate into thousands of new, high paying jobs, a promise that, by any metric, never materialized. Not only did both companies fire employees by the tens of thousands, giants like AT&T and Comcast reduced overall network investment. Killing net neutrality and the FCC’s authority was supposed to create a boom in network investment. And despite former FCC boss Ajit Pai repeatedly pretending that was true, it simply wasn’t.
AT&T’s layoffs were driven largely by the company’s insatiable appetite for mergers that don’t make much sense. Said appetites saddled the company with an absolute mountain of debt. That debt was then paid for by the company’s employees and customers. Meanwhile, executives like Randall Stephenson, responsible for bungling said mergers and related finances, are now happily retired and napping on giant beds of money.
Every, single time a US telecom monopoly wants something (merger approval, deregulation, subsidies, tax breaks) it promises the Earth, sea and sky. And every, single time, the company fails to deliver and nobody on any level is held accountable. Ever. Nobody, in either party of the U.S. government, has taken any serious steps to thwart this idiotic gravy train (especially those myopically and often performatively focused on “big tech”). Meanwhile, about 90% of the coverage from “he said, she said” media outlets excludes this grift rodeo as essential context.
AT&T receiving countless billions in tax cuts, subsidies, and regulatory FCC favors in exchange for absolutely nothing is the story. Yet any time AT&T’s business model is covered, that’s simply not mentioned at all by most large outlets. AT&T, tied to the NSA and therefore immune from government accountability, knows it doesn’t even have to scrub its website of empty promises because executives know nobody, anywhere, is going to do anything about it.